- Online Marketing
For doctors trying to reach their patients online, using Google+ can provide surprising marketing benefits that help them be more “findable” on the web. Consider that 44 percent of all internet users search online to find information about health professionals, and suddenly the importance for doctors of having a good online presence should be more clear.
In this article I’ll discuss three reasons why I think that, if you participate in Google+, the newest social network, you can improve the chances your name will come up when prospective patients search for something you’ve written about. If you’re not a doctor but you do know that many prospective clients use the web as a way to find you and your competitors, this article will also be relevant to you.
1. Rise in the Rankings
First, participating in Google+ gives doctors an advantage because content you share on Google+ has an “edge” against other stories. That’s right — Google (the search engine) likes stories that’ve gotten shared or +1’d on Google+ better.
For example, if a doctor writes a post about back pain and shares it via Google+, Google may favor this post in search results for topics related to back pain over comparable results not linked to a Google+ user. That’s important — because the higher up your content appears in search results, the more likely it is someone will visit your site.
2. Amplify Your Web Activity
Second, benefits of participating in Google+ grow as your network grows. Fellow blogger and search marketing expert Brian Whalley elaborates on what this means:
“[As you build up] a large following on Google+, content you’ve shared with your followers will also show up in those followers’ relevant Google.com searches, keeping your business top of mind and increasing its visibility among existing followers across multiple channels.”
3. Stand Out From the Crowd
Third, Google+ helps you stand out in search results because of the social data (such as your headshot, a link to your Google+ profile, and/or the number of people who have +1’d your article) included along with your content as another perk of participating. Social data will make people trust your content and make a searcher more likely to click it.
GitHub: Software description: a software to manage books in the computer (C#). →
This week Google started rolling outGoogle Search Plus Your World, which — besides being the worst case of bad branding in a long time — will cause Google a lot of problems. Searchers will go elsewhere and governments will complain. Here is why.
The idea behind Google Search Plus Your World (let’s call it +World, shall we?) is good.
Personalized and social search
Google has presented personalized search results for a long time, using data from your Google GMail account (if you have one) and your web history. Google has been using these data to build you a kind of personality or interest profile, making it easier for them to deliver search results that are of interest to you personally.
If you are a computer geek, searches for “apple” are therefore more likely to bring up results on the computer company, rather than the fruit or the music company of the Beatles.
Google has also tried to enrich search results with real time data frome the social web. For at time it did, for instance, include twitter messages (tweets), which devlivered information about what is happening right now. This was definitely a good idea.
+World is an attempt to combine the two and add personalized social data to the search engine results. That should be a recipe for success. Instead we believe Google is facing a PR disaster. You see, the implementation of +World is bad, very bad.
Twitter and Facebook not on board
It is not all Google’s fault. The fact that Twitter and Google could not reach an agreement on the delivery of tweets to search results, makes it hard for Google to add Twitter data. Twitter has actually added a rel=”nofollow” tag to links in tweets, efficiently forbidding Google to follow and use those links in its algorithm.
Much of Facebook is also off limit for Google. In other words: There are strict limits to what kind of data Google can fetch from the two most popular social services in the world.
There is nothing to stop them from linking to personal profiles on Facebook and Twitter, though.
Instead Google has decided to make use of its own social network, Google+. If you have a Google+ account, you will now find a lot of links to Google+ posts and pages in your search results. (If you don’t, your soon will +World is being rolled out, but is not yet fully launched.)
When I search for “search engine marketing”, for instance, one of the top search results is a link I posted to a Pandia Wrap-up in December, which is in no way useful. Then there are a lot of links to other Google+ posts that may or may not be relevant to my search.
Phil Bailey and Danny Sullivan correctly point out that this favorisation of Google+ even appears if you turn of personalized search/+World. Instead of much more relevant links to content rich twitter and Facebook pages, you get links to less useful Google+ pages.
By adding several Google+ links to the search engine result pages, Google is in effect deluting the quality of search results, making the search engine less attractive for searchers. As Gizmodo put it: Google Just Made Bing the Best Search Engine
If you haven’t discovered the plus one button as of yet…you are missing out. Being able to have your favorite sites in the top of the search results (if it applies), and if your a business owner…Another great way of showing up high on SERPs.
In a move that could raise some charges of anti-competitive behavior, Googlehas begun integrating Google+ brand page information in primary search results.
The inclusion, noted by researcher BrightEdge, appears only for some brands at the moment. BrightEdge, which has tracked Google+ brand pages since they went live on Nov. 7, just noticed the Google+ integration on Dec. 20.(Though Search Engine Land discovered it last month.) In particular, the company identified the following Google+ brand page results in a search for AT&T:
As Brad Mattick, VP-marketing for BrightEdge notes, the addition of G+ brand pages in this case allows the marketer to wedge in a promotional message. In this particular case, a call for a sweepstakes gets a much bigger audience via Google natural search results than it would have otherwise.
Though AT&T appeared to be one of the first brands to get such treatment, a search for Toyota showed two Google+ entries (from late November).
Other brands, including T-Mobile and Macy’s, also displayed G+ results in their searches. A Google rep offered the following statement about the search results: “Content from the +Page, such as recent posts, will appear as annotations attached to its associated web page under the sitelinks in search results if that site is eligible for Direct Connect. It uses the same bi-directional link and algorithmic criteria as Direct Connect.”
For Mattick, integrating G+ brand page information into search results is an obvious enticement for brands to join and be active on Google+. Mattick says he believes blurring the lines between G+ and search results parallels Microsoft’s inclusion of the Internet Explorer browser in its Windows OS in the 1990s. The U.S. Department of Justice accused Microsoft of using its Windows near-monopoly to beat Netscape in the browser segment.
Google+ is growing a lot now that it’s open to the public. It’s worth noting, but there is a much bigger picture in the social media competition conversation than Facebook users vs. Google+ users.
Do you use any Google product? If so, you should be counted as a Google+ user. Tell us which Google products you use in the comments.
We’ve often seen stories in the media about how people sign up for Google+, but rarely post. The important nugget of information that often goes unnoticed, however, is that this is generally in reference to public posts, and Google+ VP Product Bradley Horowitz talked about this in an interview with Wired.
“We’ve found there is actually twice as much private sharing as there is sharing that’s visible to everyone on the Internet,” he said. “That’s why sometimes it looks like people sign up and then don’t come back. In fact, they’re sharing with small groups of people that they trust and love. It’s just not publicly visible. So there’s this sort of dark matter that the public can’t see.”
Let’s not forget that one of the main things people found appealing about Google+ from the onset was the Circles sharing concept – the concept of having more control over who sees what. You’re not supposed to see every post from everybody. This isn’t Twitter (despite the ability to use it that way).
In fact, this concept was so well received that Facebook knew it had to have similar options, which it recently launched.
Horowitz also noted that Google has plans to address the issue of people who are not engaging or visiting Google+ enough, though he didn’t go into specifics. Perhaps the main point to take away from that interview is that Google+ is simply Google – a point I have brought up numerous times, I might add (even before Google+ was launched).
Essentially, the point is that Google as a whole – it’s portfolio of products – is the network. Your Google account, regardless of whether you use Google+ itself, makes you a user, because it’s all connected, and will be connected in many more ways as time progresses. Google+ – the streams, circles, hangouts, etc. are simply features of the greater Google social network.
In Horowitz’s own words, “Google+ is Google itself. We’re extending it across all that we do—search, ads, Chrome, Android, Maps, YouTube—so that each of those services contributes to our understanding of who you are.”
There you have it. WHO YOU ARE. I would say it’s about who you are on the web, but those lines are getting blurrier by the day. Take Google Wallet, for example. If this becomes as widely adopted as Google hopes, you’ll be using it to purchase physical goods at physical stores on a regular basis. This isn’t just bout online identity. It’s about identity.
I’m not saying we’re going to be giving up our driver’s licences or social security numbers anytime soon, (although Andy Rooney might think that’s a good idea). But we are going to be using our online identities for more than just web-related tasks and fun.
Google+ is one of many gateways Google has for users to enter the Google universe and have that Google account available as their identity. Google has a tremendous advantage over Facebook in those terms. So many products. So many gateways. With Facebook, you’re either a Facebook user or you’re not. With Google, you may not be a Google+ users, but you may be a Gmail user or a Google Docs user or a YouTube user, etc. It’s all one in the same.
That’s not to say that Facebook is going to lose any ground here. Facebook already has 800 million users. That’s just ridiculous. Facebook has taken a very different path by essentially focusing on one product – the social network (and the platform around it), but they’ve done it better than anybody. They’ve done it so well that just about every brand needs to be involved in one way or another, whether it’s simply having a page or building apps, connecting content, logins, etc.
Facebook did things right when they needed to and blew every competitor in the social network space out of the water, and despite numerous feature additions, redesigns and other changes, there is no indication that it will be losing its spot in the social network chain of command.